Eduardo Salvio scored the only goal of the game in Netherlands for the Eagles but the Portuguese giant is not in the last four just yet, according to its coach.
Eduardo Salvio’s goal on 48 minutes proved to be the winner to put the Portuguese league leaders in control of the tie, but their coach says there will still be a lot of work to do in the second leg.
“I am satisfied to come away with a 1-0 lead and the display from my team was pleasing, but when you face teams at this level you know they are capable of doing damage away as well as at home," Jesus told Record. “We must remember that prior to this game; AZ had not lost in 10 Europa League matches. They played a good game and have some strong players – they are still dangerous.
“Admittedly, AZ started the match with momentum; they were causing us difficulties early on. Early in the second half we entered our best period and scored the goal. From that point on, it was probably closer to going 2-0 than it was to going 1-1, which is positive.
“It is a win for our travelling fans. I am sure they will all leave here satisfied with the victory for Benfica and I send them my thanks for being here and helping us to win.”
Home coach Dick Advocaat seemed demoralized after the full-time whistle, suggesting that Benfica was at a different level to his AZ side.
The ex-Rangers boss told RTL7: "In the first 25 minutes we competed well with Benfica, but after that you could simply see a big difference in quality.
“I can't blame my boys for anything because they did everything they could. In the second half they brought on a player they paid 30 million euros for last summer – that is the difference. Their squad is full of internationals and they are a top European club.
“AZ have come very far in this tournament and that is great for our club but on a night like this you can see we have come up short.”